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“Thank you for everything. Thank you for being kind, understanding and patient. Thank you for answering every phone call and every email. I will be forever grateful for all of your hard work in my divorce and custody case.”

Qualifying for SSDI or SSI

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI), you must have worked long enough and have paid enough taxes into the system to be “insured” for Disability Insurance Benefits. If you have not worked enough, or have not worked in a long time, you may not qualify for SSDI. A rule of thumb is that if you have not worked in the last five years, you may not qualify for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI).

However, the Social Security Administration is responsible for several disability benefits programs. One program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), pays benefits to individuals with little or no income and very few assets. Even if you have never worked, or have not worked in a long time, if you are disabled now and meet a financial means test, you may qualify for SSI. Children may also be eligible for SSI benefits.

The Definition of Disability

There are many possible reasons your initial application for  Social Security disability benefits may have been denied. One common reason is that your application did not provide enough evidence to demonstrate that you are “disabled,” as that term is defined by the Social Security regulations. The regulations define “disability” as an inability “to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” That sounds complicated, but simply put, if you are not able to do any work because of a severe medical condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least one year, then you meet the basic definition of “disability.”


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